“What is so special about agency? Constitutivism and Inescapability”
A talk by
Professor of Philosophy,
University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee
Friday, October 3 @ 4:00pm
Abstract: What grounds the objective authority of the norms of practical rationality and morality? According to an influential view—known as constitutivism—the ground is to be found in the nature of agency. For the constitutivist, failing to be governed by the norms of rationality and morality would ultimately amount to the loss of agency. But giving up agency might not be an option for us. If agency is ‘inescapable’, then we cannot but be unconditionally bound by its standards and by the norms that can be derived from them. Not all the ways in which agency might be thought to be inescapable, however, are able to support this strong conclusion. In this talk, I will show that there is only one kind of inescapability that might help constitutivism, viz.: the closure of reflective agency under its characteristic operation. But I will also argue that this is only a first step and much more work needs to be done to make constitutivism compelling.